Children are a source of delight and an adornment for the world granted by Allah to their parents. They give vigor to the hearts, joy to the souls and pleasure to the eyes. They are the fruit from whom good is to be hoped for when they frequently supplicate. "My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small."
They are the ones in every nation upon whom hope for the future lies, and they are the youth of tomorrow upon whose shoulders the call to Islam is carried. Indeed Islam has elevated the status of children and has laid down manners for their treatment through different stages, which start with the manners of welcoming the new born child.
Our Prophet was a living example, educating, cultivating the Muslims upon the practices of Islam, teaching them how to worship their Lord in the best of ways. But a number of Muslims have strayed from his pure teachings and have substituted that which is gold for that which is worthless.
Encouragement to have children:
Allah, Almighty, Says (what means): "…So now, have relations with them and seek that which Allah has decreed for you…" [Quran 2: 187]
The Prophet said: "Marry the loving and fertile because through you, I will compete with the nations for superiority in numbers."[Abu Daawood, Ahmad and Ibn Hibbaan]
It is important that the parents bring up their children upon righteousness, so that the parents will benefit from them during their lives and after their death.
What has preceded applies equally to both boys and girls, and indeed Islam has encouraged the bringing up of girls, and Allah condemns those that are distressed at the birth of a girl. The Messenger said: "Whoever takes care of two girls until they reach adulthood – he and I will come together on the Day of Resurrection (like this) – and he interlaced his two fingers." [Muslim]
Giving the good news of the birth:
The near of kin who are anxiously waiting should be informed so that they can stop worrying and congratulate the parents and supplicate for the baby. Allah mentions this good news being conveyed to a number of His Prophets, such as Zakariyyaa’ of his son Yahyaa, may Allah exalt their mention. Allah Says (what means): "So the angels called him while he was standing in prayer in the chamber, ‘Indeed, Allah gives you good tidings of John, confirming a word from Allah and [who will be] honorable, abstaining [from women], and a prophet from among the righteous’."[Quran 3: 39]
Calling the Athaan in the ear of the newborn:
The first practice to do is to call the Athaan in the ear of the baby, so that the first words that the baby hears is the name of Allah, and the Kalimah (There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah).
It is to be called immediately after the birth, or very soon afterwards as he did with his grandson Al-Hasan, as is related by Abu Raafi’ who said: "I saw the Prophet call the Athaan in the ear of Al-Hasan Ibn ‘Ali when his mother Faatimah gave birth to him." [Ahmad, At-Tirmithi and Abu Daawood]
It should be given with its usual wording in a voice which is audible to the baby, not so loudly that it risks harm to the baby or alarms it.
The Sunnah has not specified as to which ear it should be given, however the Messenger of Allah used to love to do good actions starting from the right, so it would be more appropriate to give the Athaan in the right ear.
This means to softening or chewing a date and then rubbing the palate of the new-born with it just after the birth or soon after. This is done by putting a piece of the softened date on the finger and rubbing it from left to right in the mouth of the baby.
Ibn Hajr said: "if one is not able to find a dry date, then a fresh date should be used, and if that is not available then anything sweet."
It is not essential to chew the date rather it may be softened in any way.
It is done by the father or the mother or anyone from the people of knowledge whose supplication is hoped would be accepted. So he should perform Tahneek and supplicate for the child as was the practice of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them.
Imaam An-Nawawi said: "Scholars are agreed upon the recommendation of performing Tahneek upon the baby after its birth." [Sharh Saheeh Muslim]
Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported: "New-born children used to be brought to the Messenger of Allah and he would supplicate for blessings for them, and rub a chewed date upon their palate." [Muslim]
Naming the child:
The baby may be named on the day of its birth, third day, or later on the seventh day or past the seventh day, as this is what is clear after study of all the evidences from the Sunnah.
It is the father or the mother who choose the name for the baby. If they differ amongst themselves then it is the father who has the choice, he may name it himself or give his wife the right to choose. The fact that this is the right of the father is shown by the principle that the child is ascribed and attributed to the father, as Allah Says (what means): "Call them by [the names of] their fathers; it is more just in the sight of Allah…" [Quran 33: 5]
It is also allowed for the parents to allow others to name the child, since our Prophet used to name some of the children of his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them.
The name should carry a good and praiseworthy meaning as the Messenger said: "On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and your fathers’ names, so make your names good." [Abu Daawood]
It is recommended to call oneself Abdullaah (a servant of Allah) or the servant of any of the names of Allah. Then it is recommended to name a child after a Prophet, due to the Hadeeth: "Call yourselves by the names of the Prophets." [Abu Daawood]
And the hadeeth: "A son was born to me this night and I called him after my forefather Ibraheem." [Muslim]
Then it is recommended to name the child after any pious person in the hope that it will become like him/her. Then it is recommended to name by any name which has good meaning.
It is forbidden to name a child with a name that denote servitude to other than Allah, for example Abd An-Nabi, Abd Ar-Rasool etc., just as it is forbidden to name them with names that are particular to the non-Muslims like George, Michael, Susan, etc.
The names of tyrants and evil personalities should be avoided such as Pharaoh, Qaroon, Abu Lahab etc. Likewise it is disliked to name with the names of the chapters of the Quran like ‘Taa Haa’ or ‘Yaa Seen’ as is reported from Imaam Maalik and others. There is no authentic Hadeeth which ascribes the above two as being names of the Prophet .
After the seventh day of the arrival of the new-born, as a form of welcome for it and to give thanks to the One who gave the blessings, it is prescribed to slaughter a sheep. The Messenger said: "Every child is in pledge for it’s ‘Aqeeqah which is sacrificed for it on its seventh day, and it is named on it, and its head is shaved." [Abu Daawood and At-Tirmidhi]
If the new-born is a boy then two sheep are to be sacrificed, and if it is a girl then one sheep. This is the position of the majority of the scholars and Companions, may Allah be pleased with them. The Prophet said: "For the boy two equal sheep, and for the girl, a single sheep." [Ahmad and At-Tirmithi]
The sacrifice is done by the father or a close relative, for our Prophet performed the ‘Aqeeqah for his two grandsons. It is also obligatory to mention the name of Allah over it while sacrificing, and if a close relative is performing the ‘Aqeeqah then he adds, ‘this ‘Aqeeqah is the ‘Aqeeqah of so and so’ mentioning the name of the person on whose behalf he is performing the ‘Aqeeqah, as is reported in a Hadeeth related by Al-Bayhaqi.
Shaving the baby’s head:
On the seventh day after the birth, the head of the baby should be shaved. So when Al-Hasan was born, the Prophet told his daughter, Faatima, may Allah be pleased with her: "Shave his head and give the weight of his hair in silver to the poor."[Ahmad, At-Tabaraani and Al-Bayhaqi]
It is not permissible to shave a part of the head and leave a part, as this was prohibited by the Messenger as reported by Al-Bukhari.
The shaving should be done after the sacrifice, and our pious predecessors liked to rub some perfume over the baby’s head after the shaving.
Then it is prescribed to give the value of the baby’s weight of hair in silver in charity, and it is recommended to give this charity on the seventh day also, but it is not necessary to do so, and may be delayed.
It is prescribed that the boy be circumcised, it is recommended that the circumcision take place on the seventh day, but it is obligatory to circumcise before the boy reaches puberty.